Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute

Speak Up – Stop the Silence®: Ending Child Sexual Abuse Worldwide

Lead Organization

Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute

San Diego, California, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Child sexual abuse constitutes a broad range of behaviors throughout the world occurring along a continuum. Behaviors include voyeurism, molestation, child pornography, rape, torture, and sexual exploitation, and usually go unreported. A wide range of highly deleterious psychological, physical, social, and economic consequences often affect the abused child, adults they become, and overall society. We will implement a three-phase, five-year program, “Speak-Up – Stop the Silence®” in various locations predicated on 20 years of tested work in several geographies. The vision and framework for the Model we use reflects and promotes a social movement through a widening audience of professionals and community members; evidence-based, hands-on- and electronically-based risk-assessments; advocacy, training, outreach, and education to key stakeholders, service providers, and those at risk; and provides access to services through a free, phone-based, downloadable App, resulting in a critical mass of trained service providers, educated publics, and increased prevention, reporting, and services.

Problem Statement

Child sexual abuse (CSA) has occurred worldwide in huge numbers for millennia, but we are just beginning to address it. It happens to infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents. General and formal reporting is low due to its behind-closed-doors nature, power differentials, success at making the victim/families feel afraid and ashamed, and, due to age, reduced or lack of understanding about what is happening. Even if a child reports the abuse, shame, fear, lack of resources, or lack of understanding affect families from seeking help. The psychological, physical, social consequences of CSA are deleterious to the victim and without proper intervention, often last through adulthood, affecting us all. CSA is more difficult than most public health issues. Addressing CSA involves many societal layers, numerous professionals, and types of interventions, including those involving psychological and social support, police, legal systems, public health, political spheres, prison systems, and, due to the sheer numbers of people who are abusing and who are abused (estimated survivors worldwide are likely about a billion) and the spectrum in which it takes place, the costs to societies are astronomical. Change will take place by identifying appropriate interventions, knowledge sharing (e.g., training appropriate professionals), creating campaigns (e.g., through mass/social media) that address shame and stigma and fear, overcoming barriers (e.g., access to resources, money), and using the best relevant technology (e.g., a free, downloadable, easy-to-use App that lists thousands of providers that can be contacted at the push of a button and who can coordinate with each other).

Solution Overview

CSA/ACEs destroy lives. Our solution will have broad impact on millions of people globally across a wide swath of population groups over the grant period. Our solution meaningfully contributes to resolving the chosen problem through use of salient methodologies that substantially increase awareness, understanding, coordination, and service access/use for millions of children and adults. In New Zealand (2018-2020), we have shown all these by working with/training a cross-section of service providers and community groups, by providing information and electronic service access. In Cyprus (2014-2017, and now, ongoing, lead by in-country personnel, showing the program’s sustainability) we worked with the Ministry of Education and Culture to conduct broad-scale, mandated training of teachers, public school psychologists, and counselors; assisted policy development; and advised on outreach. We have done related work over two decades in the U.S., UK, Zambia. We have continued to build capabilities and will recognize progress by tracking and evaluating programming toward objectives. People affected will include: •Thousands of service providers (e.g., government leaders/stakeholders, educators, social workers, police, psychologists, doctors) in each country who will be brought “on the same page” toward understanding and handling of, and collaboration and coordination on, CSA/ACEs; •Millions of community members – children, adolescents, adults – reached with prevention messages through information dissemination, outreach (e.g., community groups, houses of worship, schools), and mass and social media; •Millions of children, adolescents, and adults who have been abused who seek help from providers and can easily access that help through a free mobile App.

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Project Funders

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2018 - 2020
  • CAF America Foundation 2018 - 2020
  • Ministry of Education and Culture, Cyprus 2014 - 2017

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